I’ve made some dumb financial decisions and mistakes in my time (e.g. buying a gently used BMW 530i on eBay for cash; buying a 2,400 sq ft house; selling most of my AAPL stock 5 years ago), but this is definitely in the Top 3.
I’ve been wanting to write this for a year or so, but I was too embarrassed to publicly share how badly I messed up. As far as a business is concerned it’s the most I’ve ever lost, because I always limited my losses (usually to a few hundred, maybe a thousand, dollars). To be honest, most of my business failures were quite profitable. In this case, however, I kept throwing good money after bad and then gave up and moved onto other things.
What was initially going to be a short article ballooned into a 7,500 word eBook when I actually sat down to write last week. Start to finish, including narrating the audio book, this came out in a blaze of writing and editing over a 96 hour period. The only aspect of the book I’m not thrilled with is the cover, which I spent about an hour on. I am obviously not a book cover designer so I could either try to be perfect or just ship it.
It would be cool if you picked it up and left an honest review on Amazon. Click here.
Here’s the introduction to the book to get a feel for it …
No Happy Ending
Thank you for investing your $10 (or less) into this short book. It should take you less than 30 minutes to read and that small cash and time investment will pay dividends. Thank me later.
Now let’s get this out of the way. This book does not have a happy ending. And I’m an unconscionable idiot.
How is that for a start?
See, I knew better than all of this. I’ve been in business for myself since the year 2000 when I quit my last job working on the computers at the Wayne State University Business School in Detroit, MI. I was basically tech support for the department so it wasn’t particularly challenging. But it paid $12/hour and that wasn’t too bad for a 19 year old with few expenses. During that time I had started a small web design business as well as selling on eBay and doing a little affiliate marketing. After about 4 months of working at the Business School I knew I could either continue earning $12/hour for the duration of my studies or I could jump head first into the small successes I was having with my side businesses. I obviously jumped in head first. It wasn’t always easy, but my Senior year in University I earned about $40k profit. My first year out of school was my first 6 figure year on my own.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Which makes writing this book all the more difficult. I’d already learned these lessons I’m sharing with you today. They’ve been ingrained in my psyche over the years of success and failure. But I got complacent. I let my ego get the best of me. I was going to jump into the app game and make a lot of money. My past success had already predetermined my future success. Or so I thought.
Here is how it went down. In 2012 I had divested myself of other businesses so I had time and money on my hands. I decided I was going to spend $10,000, what I internally called The $10,000 App Project, to figure out exactly how to make money with mobile apps. iPhone / iOS apps to start, because that’s where the money is. (False, but that’s the general consensus, isn’t it?) Over the next 6 months I created and launched 4 iPhone apps, along with 2 free versions with ads and in-app purchases. Only one app came even close to breaking even (it’s about break even, but I haven’t done exact accounting in a while). The rest were total and utter failures. To the tune of over $7,000USD.
Don’t feel sorry for me. In this case, my loss is your gain. Thankfully I was in a position to lose that money. I didn’t enjoy losing it, but I’m not broke or destitute because of it. And I learned — relearned as it were — some important lessons in the process. I certainly would have preferred to have spent $10,000 and turned it into a thriving app business, but sometimes lessons are learned — again, relearned — the hard way. So be it. At least you can learn from my stupidity and keep yourself from making the same mistakes I did.
And that’s the key.
This short book will save you money if, and it’s a big IF, you do not do what I did. Learn from my mistakes. If you’re just getting started you’re not smarter. You’re not going to be “the one” to get lucky while disregarding the rules I’ve laid out here. The market works the way it works for a reason. People buy Product X and not Product Y for a reason. And while I did clearly learn that again by the time my app experiment was over, I didn’t want to put good money after bad any longer and moved on to other projects. I let failure beat me this time.
My apps are still available in the app store, as sort of relics to my past, a harsh reminder of what was and what could have been had I had instruction like what you’re reading right now. Or had I used what I already knew instead of thinking I was smarter than the system.
My apps currently earn about $50/month. It costs $99/year just to keep apps in the Apple App Store so what my apps earn amounts to pocket change. In other words, and in case I didn’t make it clear already, my app business was a total and utter failure.
My goal with this book is either to get you to quit the app business before you start because you’re not willing to do what’s necessary or to give you a jumpstart by learning from the mistakes of someone who’s failed miserably. If I succeed in doing either of those then I will have saved you (or hopefully made you) a lot of money.